Everything Wrong With the Viral "Ultimate Spaghetti Hack" Video
There's so much wrong with this video...
The world is full of pain and horror.
Every day human beings inflict violence and cruelty on one another, and on the planet, for their own greedy purposes. And if you give it the chance, the dark weight of this reality can easily become overwhelming. Which is why it's so important to remind yourself of the points of brightness and joy that — though less dramatic — are far more common than the horror.
A puppy out for its first walk in the spring sunshine. A stranger helping a mother struggling to carry a stroller up a flight of stairs. Small acts of kindness and moments of beauty surround us if we take the time to see them. And doing so can cleanse us of the dark thoughts that frightening events on a global scale can so easily inspire.
But there is another kind of darkness that doesn't wash away so easily... Horror that is so senseless it leaves you permanently changed. Horror that's best exemplified by the recent viral video known as "Ultimate Spaghetti Trick!!"
Do you know the hardest part about making a big batch of spaghetti and meatballs? It's not getting the blend of spices just right in the sauce, or making sure that the ground meat is firm without getting dry.
No, it's nothing like that. It's the challenge of mixing all the ingredients together in like a pot, or a bowl, or a serving tray. If you can't see all the ingredients spread out in front of you, how can you tell if they're properly mixed?!
That's why you need to pour two jars of cold Prego directly onto your marble countertop, then add the "meat-a-balls," parmesan cheese, and clumpy, steaming noodles before mixing it all together.
It's true that some people will use a freshly cleaned marble countertop as a work surface for, for example, rolling out dough. But that's a far cry from slopping down a pile of wet, saucy pasta on the same porous stone surface where you set your mail, your bag, your keys, and a summons to the Hague for crimes against humanity.
It's all so wrong, but in the video — shared by Twitter user Jarvis Johnson — it's presented so naturally. The voice behind the camera, initally echoing our own concerns, quickly abandons her objections that the mess is "all over your counter," in favor of an awed respect — "holy smokes, this is so cool!"
It feels like dream logic. It feels like the kind of nightmare that stays with you even after you wake up. Why would anyone do this? What is wrong with the world?
Beyond the more egregious offenses, it's worth acknowledging a more fundamental issue with the ingredients involved. Even if you combined two jars of room-temperature Prego with clumps of stuck-together spaghetti and a generous portion of generic powdered "parmesan" in a pot like a normal human being, the result could never be something worth showing off to the world.
There's nothing wrong with doing a quick and dirty store-bought version of spaghetti for a hearty, affordable meal. But the idea that it could ever be something that others might want to emulate — that the world needs to see — is such a deep misunderstanding of what Italian cooking can and should be.
You're not even going to heat up that sauce? Add some onion and garlic? Nothing?
It's no wonder "Prego" was trending on Twitter as the video went viral.
The Wealth P**n Vibes
What makes the humble ingredients so much more striking is the aura of money that permeates the video. The kitchen is not quite Nancy Pelosi's-$20,000-fridge levels of opulence. But it is spacious and well appointed, with lots of that signature marble in every direction. Until it gets trashed with this nightmare of food prep, it's the kind of conspicuously tidy, tasteful kitchen many of us might aspire to have for our own culinary work.
More than that, though, the cavalier attitude of the video's star suggests an attitude toward cooking, and toward life in general, that comes with a complete freedom from consequences. Who cares about food safety? Who cares about whether the food I'm serving tastes good?
It's reminiscent of the widely-mocked soupy mac and cheese that Bella Hadid was so proud to show off for her family's Thanksgiving. "I had fun with it, and I'm proud of myself, and since I've never faced any negative repercussions for anything I've done, so why should I worry about anyhing else?"
The result is so disconnected from reality that it almost seems like satire. Hmm...
The Fact That It's Obviously Fake
Okay, it definitely is satire. It's a joke. In the full version of the video the star claims to be Italian, and says "real Italians, this is how you make spaghetti." Then she adds a layer of salad behind the pasta, which she proceeds to drench in salad dressing, noting with satisfaction that the dressing is "Italian, duh!", and surrounds the other three sides with bread.
The food is arranged in a massive pile, as though her guests are just going to belly up to the kitchen island and dig in. As she puts it — miming as though she's just scooped a handful into her mouth — "this is the definition of family-style."
It's a bizarre, nonsensical send-up of the food hack genre of videos, that is maybe intentionally cultivating that Bella Hadid-esque sense of obliviousness. But the fact that it's a joke somehow doesn't make any of this better.
As much relief as we can get from the fact that no one is actually being asked to eat that countertop slop, it's easily five pounds of food intentionally wasted. For what?
You can't even call this comedy. It's pure, absurdist attention seeking, like the kid who mixes together milk and ketchup on his lunch tray, but taken to new, nauseating heights. Is there some other audience for this kind of thing?
The Fetish P**n Vibes
As with everything else that defies rational understanding on the internet, the answer is probably perverts. It's not clear if the creators were intentionally targetting mess fetish enthusiasts, or if it's just a happy coincidence that there is definitely an audience for videos of attractive women making big disgusting messes.
And while we're not trying to kink shame anyone, we generally prefer for other people's kinks to stay in their browser histories rather than in our Twitter feed. At least they weren't mashing the spaghetti with their feet like Peggy in that one episode of King of the Hill.
The Fact That There Is So...
But what makes this video even worse is the rabbit hole it connects to, which leads to so many more videos like it. The Facebook account where it started — Josh and Lisa — puts out a lot of bizarre, poorly acted content, including several more absurd food hacks.
Among the highlights are this video of "Lisa" spreading salmonella all over her kitchen while she converts a paper towel holder into a vertical meat spit.
Oh, and here's her, uh...hands-on approach to chips and salsa.
There are a ton more, including bacon s'mores, a horrifying countertop mac and cheese, and some waffle iron experiments. In case there was any doubt that they're fake, many of them are labelled "for entertainment purposes only." And in this video about ruining a bunch of cake, they couldn't even hold in their laughter.
Oh, and it turns out that Josh and Lisa aren't the only pioneers in this deeply upsetting genre.
But undoubtedly the most disturbing aspect of all these awful videos...is the fact that they make me so hungry.
I am completely disgusted by the food in these videos. And yet I find myself craving spaghetti and meatballs.
I feel compelled to go buy a couple jars of Prego. And what will happen if I do? Will I cook and eat an ordinary serving of pasta, or is this craving the first sign that my brain has been infected?
Will I dump the sauce out on my counter? Will I find myself affecting a tone of vapid good cheer? Will my wife try to stop me, or will she abandon her objections and look on in awe, offering an occasional "holy smokes," or "wow, amazing!"
Is the fact that there are so many of these videos a simple fact of people chasing views by any means, or is this the start of a horrifying contagion? More than a trend? A virus of the mind?
I know not what I may become by the time I return from the store. I no longer feel able to resist the pull. I can only beg that — should I post a video — you find the strength to look away.
Resist the spectacle of my awful kitchen etiquette, lest you too find yourself overtaken by this strange and sickly hunger. Look away.